“ The substantive formation can begin.” That is the main conclusion of Informer Tjeenk Willink. He handed over his final report (.pdf) to the chairman of the House of Representatives and said that a new informer could be appointed as far as he is concerned. It does not have to deal with the question of who wants to rule with whom, but first look at what problems need to be addressed.
The informer went to work three weeks ago. He held talks with all 17 group chairmen in the House of Representatives and states that a sense of inconvenience has not been removed. He wonders aloud what the “exhaustive Chamber debates about broken trust in The Hague” bring about among the “voters who cast their votes in the hope that there would be ruled to get out of the crisis quickly”.
His mission was to find out whether there is “sufficient trust between the parties or can arise again to find a broadly supported way out of the deadlock”. So that is the case, is his conclusion. He points out that there has been sufficient willingness in recent weeks to break with the existing administrative culture. And that, according to him, is a prerequisite for the will to put the shoulders under it together. When the talks started three weeks ago, the atmosphere was quite different, says Tjeenk Willink.
Tjeenk Willink had a conversation with VVD-leader Rutte:
The informer says that the democratic rule of law is based on trust and moderation, but that these values have now been replaced by distrust and escalation. “Accountability Question is replaced by seeking guilty persons and learning from errors is replaced by checkout, he explains. He points out that today civil servants are blamed for errors based on political decisions and that ministerial responsibility is increasingly seen as “debt liability”.
In this light, he also asked the chairmen of the political groups whether they are still in contact with the VVD leader Rutte. PVV, SP and Bij1 said to exclude participation or support in a cabinet led by the demissionary Prime Minister. Party voor de Dieren, Denk and BBB said a collaboration with “the VVD of Mark Rutte” not to find credible. “Others do not go so far,” writes Tjeenk Willink, “and leave their judgments dependent on the outlines of a policy to be implemented”. That means that most parties in the House of Representatives do not rule out Rutte as Prime Minister.
There are also parties that are excluded or mutually exclusive:
In his final report, Tjeenk Willink says that the formation should not start with the question of who wants to form a cabinet with whom. As far as he is concerned, it must first be about the problems to be tackle. He advises to discuss this in the House of Representatives and to have the new informer take stock of how it can be achieved that they are picked up. “On the basis of these debates, it will be clear which parties would like to contribute to the solutions to the identified problems and possibly to form a coalition.”
The informer will take an advance. In any case, it should be about the recovery plan for the post-coronacrisis economy. That cant wait until theres a new cabinet, he says. In addition, in their discussions, the group chairmen have identified other major problems such as the inequality of opportunities in education and the contradictions in the labour market. Climate, migration and the restoration of the democratic rule of law are also high on the agenda.
As far as Tjeenk Willink is concerned, the new informer must have a great distance from current politics and political parties and have a “broad, socio-economic profile”. He also advises to look for the right directors at an early stage of formation. They must have knowledge of the administration, know how to deal with the House of Representatives and have a good understanding of the subjects in their own portfolio.
Tjeenk Willink started his job on April 6th. In the Chamber debate on the “position elsewhere” for Omtzigt, a motion of censure against Prime Minister (and VVD leader) Rutte was passed. Then there were the leaked minutes of the Council of Ministers. This showed that several party leaders in the Cabinet had expressed their views on critical MPs of the coalition.
A therapeutic debate yesterday about those confidential minutes lasted deep into the night. The directors present made excuses and expressed good intentions. The Chamber adopted a series of proposals, which should lead to a new culture of governance. Thats something the informer would like, too. The informer waited with his final report until this debate was over.